Fresh Off the Boat vs. Dr. Ken

After watching the first three episodes of Dr. Ken and catching up to Season 2 Episode 4 for Fresh Off the Boat, I could not help but compare the two shows. Personally, I like Fresh Off the Boat a lot more, not just because the setting is highly relatable, but also because the events and the way the characters act make the story believable. The whole plot simply flows naturally, and, even if some topics or ideas seem to be more on the ridiculous side (how much Jessica stresses on getting good grades and remembering the family’s heritage, for example), they are often hilarious.

In comparison, in Dr. Ken, the humor is very dull and the laugh track is used too many times throughout each episode. If the show were actually funny, then the audience would not need a laugh track accompanying as many lines. It is true that the show does address Asian stereotypes (for instance, the difficulties in dealing with mother-in-law and father-in-law in addition to Asian being a doctor), yet, the way the show presents the problems and how the characters overcome the obstacles make me feel like the show is staged superficially. I understand each episode has its own little plot where the characters run into some kind of dilemma before searching for solutions; however, the way those scenarios are portrayed lack depth. This makes it challenging for me to sympathize with the characters’ situations and to understand their perspectives.

Overall, it is a little disappointing going from finishing the entire season of Fresh Off the Boat and expecting something similar for Dr. Ken. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that there is now an increasing number of shows casting Asian Americans as main characters. As more of these shows emerge, Asian Americans are given more opportunities to gain agency and diversify the limited types of characters they used to be casted as.


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